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Saint Alphonsus on Meekness in Correction… May 11, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Christendom, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, reading, Saints, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

…..or, meekness when one has spiritual authority over others, such as a parent has over a child.

I wish I could excerpt the entire chapter, as it is all extremely good, but I will focus only on certain portions for the sake of brevity.  From pp. 316-322 of The Holy Eucharist:

The spirit of meekness is peculiar to God…….Hence it is that a soul that loves God loves also all those whom God loves, namely, her neighbors; so that she eagerly seeks every occasion of helping all, of consoling all, and of making all happy as far as she can.  St. Francis de Sales, who was the master and model of holy meekness, says: “Humble meekness is the virtue of virtues, which God has so much recommended to us; therefore we should endeavor to practice it always and in all things.”  Hence the Saint gives us this rule: “What you see can be done with love, do it; and what you see cannot be done without offence, leave it undone.”  [Duly note, St. Francis was quite emphatic in his rejection of protestant errors, which he wrote in pamphlets against the Calvinists in the Chablais, and converted almost all of them back to the Faith.  So this guideline can be given a somewhat broad interpretation]

…….It is one thing to correct with firmness, and another with harshness; it is needful at times to correct with firmness, when the fault is serious, and especially if it be repeated after the subject has already been admonished of it; but let us always be on our guard against harsh and angry correction; he that corrects with anger does more harm than good. [Something I fail at quite a bit! Pray for me!] This is that bitter zeal reproved by St. James. Some make a boast of keeping their family in order by severity, and they say it is the only successful method of treatment; but St. James speaks not so: But if you have bitter zeal……glory not (Jm iii:14).  If on some rare occasion it be necessary to speak a cross word, in order to bring the offender to a proper sense of his fault, yet in the end we ought invariably to leave him with a gentle countenance and a word of kindness.  Wounds must be healed after the fashion of the good Samaritan in the Gospel, with wine and oil: “But as oil,” says St. Francis de Sales, “always swims on the surface of all other liquors, so must meekness prevail over all our actions.”  And when it occurs that the person under correction is agitated, then the reprehension must be deferred til his anger has subsided, or else we should only increase his indignation. [Good advice] The Canon Regular St. John said: “When the house is on fire, one must not cast wood into the flames.”

You know not of what spirit you are (Lk ix:55).  Such were the words of Jesus Christ to His disciples James and John, when they would have brought down chastisements on the Samaritans for expelling them from their country.  Ah, said the Lord to them, and what spirit is this?  This is not My spirit, which is sweet and gentle; for I am come not to destroy, but to save souls: The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save (Lk x:56). And would you induce Me to destroy them?…..Never make the like request to Me, for such is not according to My spirit………

And when it happens that we ourselves commit some fault, we must also practice meekness in our own regard.  To be exasperated at ourselves after a fault is not humility, but a subtle pride, as if we were anything else than the weak miserable creatures we are.  St. Teresa said: “The humility that disturbs does not come form God, but from the devil.” [Again, this must be taken in context.  A little bit of anger at self for a fault need not be prideful, but can be a motivation to avoid the fault in future.  True, we should trust in God for our conversion and aversion to sin, but we can also use certain means to motivate ourselves.  The best method, however, is great humility and recognition of our weakness. To be angry at ourselves after the commission of a fault is a fault worse than the one committed, and will be the occasion of many other faults; it will make us leave off our devotions, prayers, and communions; or if we do practice them, they will be done very badly.  St. Aloysius Gonzaga said that we cannot see in troubled waters, and that the devil fishes in them.  A soul that is troubled knows little of Godand of what it ought to do.  Whenever, therefore, we fall into any fault, we should turn to God with humility and confidence, and craving his forgiveness say to him, with St. Catherine of Genoa: “O Lord, this is the produce of my own garden!  I love Thee with my whole heart, and I repent of the displeasure I have given Thee!  I will never do the like again: grant me Thy assistance!”

———–End Quote————

I pray you found this useful!




1. Tim - May 12, 2016

Having children and employees I have learned that the hard way. Thanks for posting this.

2. SoccerMom - May 12, 2016

Thank you!

3. Barbara Hvilivitzky - May 12, 2016

Great post. Some thoughts:

1) St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus were bishops so they had the authority to correct and admonish. That’s one of the requirements St. Thomas says are necessary for fraternal correction. Who do we have authority over? Mostly husbands over wives, and parents over children. So when we admonish others we have to ask ourselves that question first: do we have authority?

If we see that we must speak truth against error to save another soul that’s when the charity and meekness comes in.

2) as for anger at ourselves, the better emotion is feeling guilt. But the ‘good’ guilt – the guilt that leads to change of behaviour – amendment of an action from bad to good. The usual feeling of guilt that makes us angry is: I can’t believe I did that! This is where the subtle pride mentioned comes in.

3) Meekness is anger under control, not the absence of anger. And zeal can be silent – as in praying for those who we are not in a position to speak to directly.

Thanks for this post as it is thought-provoking.

4. Margaret Costello - May 19, 2016

Admonishing the sinner (one of the spiritual works of mercy) doesn’t come with a caveat of having authority over them, though. And I’m all for firmness in correction and not harshness but aren’t we also called to be Christ like? Our Lord was not gentle when He spent an entire chapter in Scripture excoriating the pharisees, scribes, etc.

I think applying some righteous anger in our age is quite needed if used prudently. Our Lord was very angry in the Temple, at the scribes, pharisees, saducees, lawyers and laketowns. We need to stop with the emo, gentle only Jesus that has gotten us into this demonic stew these past decades and bring out the Lord of Lords who did not come for peace, but for the sword.

I think the above quotes are applicable to formed Catholics who are under your authority. But for those who willfully promote grave sins, the righteous anger needs to be shown, just like Our Lord.

God bless~

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